Police Suggest Preventative Tips To Avoiding Check Washing Fraud

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SPRINGDALE (KFSM) - Springdale Police want to help educate the community on how to avoid being scammed out of money.

 A fraud ring was busted in Springdale this week. Those who were involved scammed victims out of more than $20,000 by stealing checks from mailboxes. (Read more about the fraud ring bust here)


“Individuals like this, obviously, are going out of their way to steal these checks, to steal someone’s identity, for a quick buck.” Springdale Lt. Derek Hudson said.


For those who pay their bills by placing checks in their homes mail box, police want you to know that they are at risk of being scammed in the same way as others have.


“In this situation they’re putting it into a mailbox that is not secure, it’s not locked, and anybody can come down through there and steal that mail out of there” Lt. Hudson said.


And that is exactly what scammers are doing to their victims.


“What they do is they use a chemical substance and they usually put the check down in it. And, what it does, is it takes the ink off of the check” Lt. Hudson said.


It’s called check washing, and scammers in Arkansas have been doing it for a while.


“When they were able to use their chemicals, they were able to lift that off of there. And they basically have a real check, a real account number, and they go into a bank and they cash that,” Lt. Hudson said.


"What it does is it takes the ink off of the check, leaves everything else intact,” Lt. Hudson said. “But, where you've written with a pen, it will pull that off of there."


Scammers are able to wash checks with chemicals bought at grocery stores.


Police suggest that people deliver their checks directly to a post office.


Also, they can consider writing their checks with pigment based pens, as dye based pens wash easily.


And, while police continue their investigation into check washing, they want citizens to be safe, as they say there are still scammers on the streets in Northwest Arkansas.


"Last time I talked to the detective decision, they're still working the case, and they told me that more arrests are possible,” Lt. Hudson said.